Opas: An old man and his love

Close your eyes and I’ll kiss you
Tomorrow I’ll miss you
When I said that this was my favourite song by the Beatles, the famous international rock band of the 1960s, a lady began to hum the tune … 
I met Opas and his wife for the first time at the beginning of November 2014 at the Bangkok Military Court. Opas is a 67-year-old man with grey hair and a friendly smile. He invited me to chat and the three of us entered into a wide-ranging conversation covering language, literature, and our common interest in music. 
Uncle Opas only completed vocational school, but he is passionate about the English language. Both he and his wife are interested in enhancing their language skills by reading books in English, listening to international music, and watching television and news from abroad.
His language skills enabled Uncle Opas to work in the international divisions of many well-known companies. He also sold foreign books for many years.
Uncle Opas’s language talents also aided in his pursuit of music, which is what he loves the most … Twenty years ago, the Narai Hotel on Silom Road was one of the places where Uncle Opas played international music as a lead guitarist along with leading Thai musicians of the time, such as Laem Morrison,   Cho An Na Bang Chang, Charas Fuengarom, Surasee Eittikul, etc. Uncle Opas was also a music teacher as a young man.
In addition to the Beatles, Uncle Opas talked fondly about the Rolling Stones, the British band from the 1960s, and said that they inspired him as a musician. He said that actually, the name of the band referred to people lonely and deep in thought, and so dejected with what has passed that they have become depressed.
It dawned on me that Uncles Opas’s life resembles the name of the band.
Uncle Opas was addicted to political news – listened to community radio – watched television news – became tense – had to find a release – grew frustrated with the condition of not being able to express his ideas … until he relieved his tension by writing on a bathroom wall. 
On 15 October 2014, four uniformed soldiers took Uncle Opas into custody at Seacon Square Mall. They interrogated him and issued a press release that he was accused of using a marker to write a message defaming the king on a bathroom wall. 
From the beginning, Uncle Opas admitted that he actually wrote the aforementioned message. But he had no intention to defame the king. He only wanted to criticize the junta. 
Uncle Opas was detained for 5 days at the Crime Suppression Division amidst a tense political atmosphere, and without knowing or understanding the legal process and conditions of appearing before the Military Court. He was worried about work, money, and his family, and his only support and encouragement came from his beloved wife.  She visited and brought him food, drinks, and other necessary items daily.
On 20 October 2014, Uncle Opas’s wife brought the deed to their land, which was worth 2.5 million baht, to put up as bail to secure his temporary release. This was the largest amount submitted as bail in an Article 112 case in 2014. But the Court did not grant the request. The Court provided the following reason for the denial:
“If released, the defendant may take additional actions or foment other incidents or may flee. The petition is dismissed.”
After that, Uncle Opas’s wife continued to shuttle between their home and the Military Court to submit at least another 4 requests for bail. In addition to the significant amount of collateral being offered, she also had a doctor’s certificate. Uncle Opas has retinopathy and if a clot forms, then he is at risk of blindness. Usually, defendants see a doctor every 2-3 months. If his symptoms become serious and he is not rapidly treated with a laser, then he could go blind. 
The Court gave the order that … although detained in the prison, defendants have the right to be treated quickly when symptoms arise.  This reason is therefore untenable … 
Behind the curtain of bars at the Bangkok Remand Prison … 
By the beginning of January 2015, Uncle Opas was still waiting for the Military Court to set the dates for the giving of testimony. What has aided and restrained Uncle Opas is that he then decided to confess to all of the charges against him so that the Court would quickly rule on his punishment. He could then request a royal pardon and return to living his life as usual as quickly as possible.
The next set of lyrics of ‘All My Loving,’ which follows those with which this account began are as follows:
Remember I will always be true
And then while I’m away
I will write home every day
And I will send all my loving to you
Perhaps this is something that Opas’s wife, the lady I met at the Bangkok Military Court last November, repeats to her husband daily when she visits him at the Bangkok Remand Prison. He awaits the return of days filled with sweetness from behind the curtain of bars of bitterness … 
Note: On 20 March 2015, the Bangkok Military Court sentenced Uncle Opas to 3 years in prison, which was reduced to 1.5 years as he pled guilty. See further information on the case here. 
For more detials of the case, visit our database.
Article type: